Beyonce’s 2011 Billboard Music Award Performance Sparked Controversy, Preceded Album Devoid Of Top 10 Hits
Beyonce was on cloud nine at the Billboard Music Awards last year. Her mother, accompanied by her nephew, presented her with the Billboard Millennium Award as her husband Jay-Z and former Destiny's Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams cheered her on from the audience.
Beyonce received a video introduction that included praises from her parents, sister, and music industry luminaries Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Bono, Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder.
[Related: 2011 Billboard Music Awards Recap]
Beyonce's performance of "Run The World (Girls)." was spectacular. She sang and danced in sync with a digital video presentation that boasted virtual drums, wings and background dancers. The audience was in awe, watching this seemingly never-before-seen technology. A good portion of the audience stood to watch.
Beyonce was so happy, afterwards she included ousted original Destiny's Child members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson among those she thanked in her acceptance speech. Critics said she had the best performance of the night.
The next morning, however, the Internet was flooded with articles alleging that Beyonce copied her show concept from Italian pop star Lorella Cuccarini. A year earlier, Cuccarini used the same interactive backdrop when she played an Italian award show.
When Beyonce and Cuccarini's concerts are played side-by-side, the comparisons are even more apparent, down to the sequence and illustrations.
In an effort to curb the negative reaction, Beyonce admitted her show was patterned after Cuccarini's. "My makeup artist showed me the performance of Lorella Cuccarini a year ago, and it inspired me so much," she said in an interview.
The controversy preceded the promotional run for Beyonce's fourth album, "4," that failed to score a top hit on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. "Run The World (Girls)" peaked at No. 29, "Best Thing I Ever Had" stalled at No. 16, "Countdown" stopped at No. 71, and "Love On Top" just barely cracked the top 20.
This chart performance was lackluster compared to Beyonce's three previous solo albums that each scored at least three top 5 singles and at least one No. 1 hit. Beyonce's 2003 debut, "Dangerously In Love," had three chart-toppers, "Crazy In Love," "Baby Boy," and "Me, Myself And I."
Beyonce was not disappointed by the lower chart rankings. She said she intentionally shied away from making cookie-cutter radio songs on her fourth solo album. "It's all my influences that inspired me over my travels," she told USA Today. "I was able to see some festivals and artists. It's a bit of rock, jazz, live instrumentation. I wanted to bring chords, bridges and melody back on the radio. I thought I've earned the right to make artist music and not just radio songs."
"Run The World (Girls)" co-producer Afrojack agrees. He said the song was written to spark a trend, not reach No. 1. "You shouldn't expect those kinds of songs to go No. 1 on Billboard or be the most played radio song because it's not made for that," he told Yahoo! Music in an exclusive interview. "It's made to make a statement and to make like fresh music and inspire other people."